Rosa Fassel Sonneschein: Early Zionist & Newspaper Publisher

Rosa Fassel Sonneschein

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Rosa Sonneschein

Rosa Sonneschein

Rosa Fassel was born in Hungary in 1847, the youngest of nine children of Rabbi Hirsch-Baer Fassel, a Talmudic scholar.

After her marriage in 1864, she and her husband, Rabbi Solomon Sonneschein, and family moved to New York and soon afterwards to St. Louis, Missouri, where Rabbi Sonneschein became one of the founders of Temple Israel.


St. Louis

Rabbi Sonneschein, as a “Classical”Reform Rabbi, was apposed to Zionism.

However, Rosa Sonnescheim adamantly supported Zionism.

They were divorced in 1893.



In 1895, Rosa Sonneschein moved to Chicago and founded The American Jewess, the first American Jewish women’s magazine, which built a circulation of 29,000 subscribers.

Rosa Sonneschein was also a national founder of the National Council of Jewish Women.

In 1897 and 1898, Rosa Sonneschein attended the First and Second World Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland where she reported for her American Jewess readers:

“Never will this day be forgotten by those who were fortunate to attend the opening session of the first Zionist Congress. . . . Indeed, it was a wonderful day; its significance will never disappear from the annals of world history, and it opens a new page in Jewish history of which posterity may be proud.  For it is the first time since their loss of nationality that the Jews have made a step to regain their independence, their nationality.  For the first time they cease to be passive; they have spoken today and the words of Dr. Theodore Herzl and Max Nordau will flash over the wires and will be heard by the nations.”

In 1899, The American Jewess  ceased publication and Rosa Sonneschein moved back to St. Louis.



In 1864, Rosa Sonneschein married Rabbi Solomon Sonneschein and moved to Prague.

Together they had four children: Ben, Fanny, Leontine and Monroe.


Rosa Fassel Sonneschein died in 1932.

She is buried at the Hillcrest Abbey Crematory and Mausoleum.



  • David Geffen, “Rosa Sonneschen: Publisher from St. Louis, Attended First Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, 1897,” Western States Jewish History 30/3.

Gladys Sturman is curator of this Rosa Sonneschein exhibit.